Core Training Explained! Is your Ab Workout Effective?

Core training is crucial for posture, balance, stability & strength, it can also accelerate fat loss & greatly improve energy levels. But a strong core is way more than just a nice six-pack, our abdominal muscles help stabilize us, improve our motion capabilities & even play a crucial role in breathing. This video covers the anatomy of the core as well as 3 important principles to apply in your training.

What is the core?
The core is commonly defined as the musculature surrounding the Thoracic (middle) & Lumbar (lower) spine. So that’s not just the Abs (Rectus Abdominis), but also the Internal & External Obliques, Transverse Abdominis (TA), Quadratus Lumborum, Erector Spinae, Multifidus, pelvic floor musculature, Longissimus Thoracis, Latissimus Dorsi & even the Diaphragm. Certain schools of thought include other muscles in with the core musculature, such as the Glutes and Trapezius, for their role in assisting the core. Now that we know what and where the core is, we can move on to the first principle of core training: effective breathing.

1). Breathing:
At the very core of your core, is your diaphragm. This muscle is responsible for your breathing, contracting with each inhale & relaxing with each exhale. The diaphragm also has another crucial element to it which makes it the forgotten puzzle piece in regards to core training. The diaphragm is an anchor for the rest of the core muscles. This means that while the diaphragm expands and contracts to help you breathe, your core has to stabilize around the working diaphragm.

This is important in core training, because our diaphragms can become inefficient, making it hard to breathe through exercise. IF YOU AREN’T BREATHING, YOUR EXERCISE IS MINIMALLY EFFECTIVE! The better you breathe, the more energy you make, which in turn helps you perform better & accelerates progress. Do not allow your breath to catch or hold, employ smooth breathing throughout each exercise. Always try to maximize your oxygen intake with deep, full diaphragmatic breaths!

For full instructions on how to efficiently use your diaphragm, checkout my diaphragmatic breathing video here: 

2) Stability:
The core is a stabilizer. From any direction, at any time, the core’s role is to stabilize the spine and trunk. That means if we challenge the stability of an exercise, we can recruit more core musculature. Standing on one leg or using a BOSU/Stability ball are all examples of challenging stability for increased core recruitment. Stability training also greatly improves balance & generally has a high caloric burn, making it a great tool for fat loss.

3) Time Under Tension
The core responds to a higher “time-under-tension” (The time a muscle spends actually working) than most muscles. Try to eliminate the tiny rests that your body is good at sneaking in between reps, keeping your muscles working constantly and continuously building up that burning fatigue feeling. Aim for high reps or long sets, challenging the stamina of your core. Heavy weights and shorter sets aren’t very effective at building the core muscles, instead focus on challenging your stamina.

For best results in your core training, apply all 3 principles to each exercise. Challenge the stability by making things unstable, maximize your breathing through effective diaphragm work & stick to high reps/long sets in all exercises. Transform your core program & share your results with me!

Peace, Love & Progress